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Police investigate footballer's scheme that cost players millions

Michael McIndoe used to play for Barnsley, Bristol and Coventry. Credit: PA

Almost every current or recently retired professional footballer knows Michael McIndoe. If they don’t personally know him, they certainly know who he is.

Not for his on field skills, although he had a decent career at mainly Championship clubs.

But because for a few years, he gained a reputation for running an investment scheme that promised a very high rate of return.

Dozens of highly paid players and others, mainly successful businessmen close to football, say they poured in a combined total of many millions of pounds.

It may have started promisingly - some footballers got their initial investments back and then some, but many more lost the lot.

Dave McDermott lost £140,000 in the scheme. Credit: ITV News

One of those was Dave McDermott, a former friend of McIndoe’s who between him, his family and friends handed over £140,000 to Mcindoe. He hasn’t seen a penny since.

McDermott, who played at Walsall and a few other lower league clubs, spent two summers with McIndoe holidaying in Marbella.

At the time, McDermott couldn’t believe how lucky he was. A luxurious villa to stay in, endless parties, and a friend who he said thought nothing of spending £20,000 a day on entertaining.

What he didn’t realise at the time, but suspects now, is that it was all for a reason.

Marbella was a showcase. He took us out there but he was basically grooming us to spread the word.

We were young lads, good looking lads, friendly, we were younger than him, it was just a showcase for throwing his money around - other people’s money I should say.”

– Dave McDermott
Michael McIndoe 'showcasing his wealth' in Marbella. Credit: ITV News

McDermott suspects now that McIndoe was hoping he’d go back to the UK and tell everyone about how successful his new mate was.

He also said at the start McIndoe’s ‘scheme’ seemed to pay dividends.

The first teammates at one of his clubs were making their investments back plus very healthy payments on top.

That's when McDermott decided to tell those close to him to get involved.

"The first year people did get their money back, it was like a domino effect after that, you know footballers, business men everyone knew about it and everyone starting chucking money in.”

But McDermott’s ‘investment’, while huge to a player who never earned a Premier League salary, is dwarfed by some of the others who became involved.

Former footballer Jimmy Bullard was among those who handed money over. Credit: PA

High profile names like Jimmy Bullard, Freddie Eastwood and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake are thought to have handed over more than £1,000,000 between them.

One businessman ITV News is aware of sunk in almost £3 million.

And there are many more footballers who paid over sums ranging from £50,000 to £250,000 at a time.

McDermott knows many of them. He said: "Hundreds of thousands, millions. My friend took out loans for him.

"I told him not to, I fell out with him earlier, I saw him for what he was when he was taking advantage of my friend.”

He adds he believes McIndoe has ruined lives: “Of course he has, it’s a disgrace really, it really is a disgrace to think that …he has just got away scot-free."

Whether out of embarrassment or fear of repercussions, despite the fact that ITV News has spoken to many current or former footballers who’ve lost a fortune, it was only David McDermott who agreed to go on camera.

But McIndoe’s creditors form a tight little circle and many were encouraging McDermott to speak for them all.

ITV News established, through talking to more than a dozen ‘investors’ that they lost between them, more than £10 million.

Those same people though are convinced this runs deeper and wider, perhaps affecting hundreds of people who’ve lost between them more than £20 million.

Michael McIndoe arriving at his bankruptcy hearing today. Credit: ITV News

McIndoe appeared at a bankruptcy hearing today where he said some of his losses, he couldn’t remember how much, were down to the fact that he was a professional gambler.

He also stated that one specific payment he received from a businessman of £2.5 million was a loan.

While previously the Met Police considered his case a civil matter, new allegations lodged with them concerning McIndoe have led them to launch a new investigation.

It is being spearheaded by the Falcon Unit, part of the Crime and Operations team who specialise in fraud.

Today may not be the last time Michael McIndoe appears in court.

In response to ITV News' report, McIndoe's solicitor Robert Berg said: “In accordance with his legal obligations my client Michael McIndoe attended a hearing at The Bankruptcy Court on the 17th April 2015.

"Mr McIndoe strongly denies the allegations of wrongdoing which featured in the ITV News on the 17th June."